Mary Pedersen discusses the challenge of Lent in a difficult time: a call to return to God and a new way of being.
Looking out my front window in the early morning, long before the sun rises, snow, thick and deep, encases the ground like a shroud. White covers bushes as a painter throws drop cloths over chairs and sofas. We endure record setting below-zero temperatures for February — in the middle of a pandemic. It’s been the year of a billion disappointments as we miss the simple joys of hugging grandchildren, gathering for family celebrations, and having conversations with dear friends over a cup of coffee. We feel the tension of political division and social injustice. Yes, countless little and large deaths. And complete desolation for families who have experienced the death of loved ones from COVID or any other illness.
Lent signals spring, yet begins with a symbol of death, as our foreheads bear the shape of the cross: “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” To death we shall return. Sadly, this pandemic has been a constant reminder of our return to death — as we see signs and warnings of it everywhere. So maybe this Lent, we are to return to Him and an entirely new way of being.
I’m sure many are giving up sweets to lose extra weight, the “Quarantine 15,” or letting go of time wasted on binge watching. Yes, now is the time to let go of bad habits which formed during the pandemic. But this Lent, we need more. We need to hit the reset button and re-turn to God. “Even now, says the Lord, return to me with your whole heart.”
Re-turn to a new and deeper relationship with Jesus in prayer.
Re-turn to Mass with renewed participation.
Re-turn to the Sacrament of Reconciliation to receive a new, clean, and throbbing heart.
Re-turn to a spirit of gratitude, for all the blessings we’ve received this past year, with new ways of meeting with friends and living with family.
Re-turn to a spirit of service, with innovative ways of standing at the cross with our brothers and sisters.
Re-turn to a spirit of hope, in trust that God will bring new life out of our disappointments and struggles.
Re-turn to Jesus, who transforms all our deaths into new life.
It may snow on Easter morning (it’s certainly happened in Iowa before), but instead of resembling a death veil, it most likely will appear as manna from Heaven. As one woman said on Easter morning: “Snow is perfect for Easter as He makes our sins white as snow.” And in April, snow melts quickly while purple petals peek through, and we once again celebrate the resurrection of our Lord. Until then, Jesus calls us to re-turn to Him with all our hearts.
How is God calling you to re-turn to Him this Lent?
Copyright 2021 Mary Pedersen
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About the Author
Mary Pedersen serves as "first preacher" to six and grand-preacher to ten! She holds a doctorate in preaching from the Aquinas Institute of Theology, with her thesis, "Parents as First Preachers: Naming Grace in the Domestic Church." She writes and speaks on topics of faith and family, and has been known on probably far too many occasions, to shout out a woo-hoo! Mary blogs at MaryPedersen.com.